The classical capital of Athens has been undergoing a Renaissance of late, which makes it perfect for a city break. Although subject to turmoil – treated as a stopover en route to Greece’s glamorous islands, momentarily transformed into a modern metropolis for the Olympics, only to become wounded by the recession – a dynamic revival seems to be happening. Think pop-up bars, art collectives, new cultural centres and an exciting restaurant scene that’s reimagining Greek cuisine and blending it with world flavours. This entrepreneurial spirit seamlessly interweaves the modern and the ancient. There’s a lot to (re-)discover in the Greek capital; think, “Athens Redone”.
Athens is a highly concentrated capital: as the guide on one of my Greek tours told me – there’s approximately 5 million people and 3 million cars. Messy and unpredictable, the city is fizzing all over with energy. Each area of this sprawling capital has its own vibe. Whilst leafy Kifissia is affluent and green, Kolonaki is refined and tasteful, whilst downtown Monastiraki and Plaka are crowded and bursting. And those are just a handful of districts. Beyond the main tourist centres, old neighbourhoods are evolving into new hotspots (Pagrati, Koukaki, Psiri, Petralona, Exarchia…). Having stayed in Athens for a few months, here’s a guide to some of my favourite sights, bars and cafes, and of course restaurants.